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$1 million avian flu bill moves to Minnesota governor’s desk

(The Center Square) – The Minnesota Senate and the House have unanimously passed a $1 million bill in response to the H5N1 avian influenza. The bill now moves to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk.

The Minnesota Senate on Thursday added the emergency avian flu funding to HF 3217, a bill introduced by Rep. Ginny Klevorn, DFL-Plymouth, that proposes to privatize data identifying farmers who seek assistance with mental or behavioral health issues.

The funding for the Highly Pathogenic  Avian Influenza (HPAI; also categorized as H5N1) response now included in the bill would be spent on testing supplies and other emergency response activities such as disease surveillance, the news release said.

“HPAI is an urgent problem for poultry producers in Minnesota,” Rep. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko, House Agriculture Committee chair, said in a statement. “This is certainly a challenge, but our state Agriculture Department, Board of Animal Health and others are well prepared to respond to the crisis. The investment we’re making today on a bipartisan basis will help keep our state’s poultry industry thriving and protect Minnesota turkeys from Avian Influenza.”

The influenza was first detected in Minnesota March 25. It has been found in flocks in 12 counties, and more than 1 million birds have been impacted so far. Minnesota is the top turkey producer in the U.S. It has 660 turkey farms, which raise about 40 million birds annually.

“HPAI poses little or no risk to humans, and turkey available for purchase to consumers is safe to eat,” the release said.

Gov. Tim Walz announced last week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency response team in Minnesota is supporting the state’s disease control and containment efforts. He made an executive order waiving some trucking regulations to help fight the spread of HPAI and mitigating its risk to the poultry industry. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has banned poultry sales and exhibitions through May 1.

The University of Minnesota Extension encourages bird owners to separate flocks from disease sources, separate new or returning birds from existing flocks for 30 days, clean poultry areas and equipment, and avoid sharing equipment among neighbors.


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